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Oil Painting Restoration Completed!

The Conspirators (1867), an oil painting by Lew Wallace of the men who conspired to assassinate Abraham Lincoln
The Conspirators (1867) by Lew Wallace

We are pleased to announce the completion of an extensive oil painting restoration project!

Grant Funding

In 2017, we successfully secured two grants for the restoration of oil paintings owned by the museum. A priority assessment was funded by the Indiana Historical Society and made possible by the Lilly Endowment, Inc.

Using the results of the assessment, museum staff selected 7 paintings and several frames to be restored with a grant from the Montgomery County Community Foundation (MCCF). Two of the oil paintings restored, thanks to MCCF, were by Lew Wallace, Love Triumphant and Cows in the River.

The museum also received a Heritage Support Grant in 2017 that was provided by the Indiana Historical Society and made possible by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. This grant enabled us to complete restoration of the two largest paintings in the collection—The Turkish Princess and The Conspirators.

Oil Paintings Restored

Sultan Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire gave The Turkish Princess to Lew Wallace. C.L. Müller painted The Turkish Princess. The princess appears to be watching visitors as they move around the Study interior.

The Conspirators is the largest painting done by Lew Wallace. The painting depicts the men who conspired to assassinate Abraham Lincoln in 1865. They also planned to attack other members of the cabinet. John Wilkes Booth sits at the front left. Lewis Payne stands in the center on the stone blocks.

Payne used a knife to attack Secretary of State William Seward. He injured Seward’s son when he tried to intervene and also injured Seward. Payne was one of the four conspirators executed. Interestingly, another of those executed doesn’t appear in this painting. Mary Surratt owned the boarding house where the men held their meetings. She provided alcohol and guns to one of the conspirators. Lew excluded Mary from the painting. We wish we knew why he left her out. However, we don’t believe he thought her innocent.

The paintings selected for restoration were of critical concern because of structural issues and active deterioration. Art and frame conservators cleaned the items, repaired damage, and fully restored them. Art and frame conservators cleaned, repaired, and fully restored these paintings. As a result, the paintings can be safely on display in the Wallace Study, as they have been for 120 years. These paintings held extraordinary significance to Lew Wallace and it’s important for the mission of the museum to protect and preserve these parts of the Wallace collection.

The Turkish Princess, an oil painting by C.L. Muller, presented to Lew Wallace by Sultan Abdul Hamid II
The Turkish Princess, presented to Lew Wallace by Sultan Abdul Hamid II

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